Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s third cookbook is a love letter to Charleston, the capital of the Lowcountry. The James Beard Award-winning authors bring the vibrant food culture of this great Southern city to life, giving readers insider access to the best recipes and stories Charleston has to offer.
The best part? We’ve got our hands on two brand-new copies and we’re fixin’ to give them away!
One of the things we love most about this cookbook is that every recipe has a story, a link back to the land that inspired it. Of course, all of the iconic dishes are there – She-Crab Soup, Hoppin’ John, and Huguenot Torte. But they are also joined by the Lee Brothers’ inventive new twists to flavors that make Charleston a top food destination.
Below, we’ve included one of our favorites, Savory Benne Wafers. Check out more of their delectable recipes in our backyard party menu.
In order to win a copy of the cookbook, tell us your twist on a classic dish. How does your recipe stand apart from the original? Our two favorite answers will receive a copy of Matt and Ted Lee’s Charleston Kitchen Cookbook. Click here for official rules.
Savory Benne Wafers
Benne is the term for “sesame” in the Bantu dialects of western Africa, and although sesame seeds came to the Lowcounty during the slave trade nearly three centuries ago, the word is still commonly used among Charlestonians, both in home kitchens and on restaurant menus. The crisp Sweet Benne Wafers are served with afternoon tea or after-dark dinner drinks, and sold in tins in grocery stores and gift shops. Homemade Savory Benne Seed Wafers are far rarer, but they’re outstanding – an addictive savory cookie for popping by the dozens during the cocktail hour.
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. benne (sesame) seeds
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ice-cold water
- Parchment paper
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Cook sesame seeds in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until browned and fragrant. (Seeds will be the color of pecans.) Transfer to a plate. Cool completely (about 20 minutes).
2. Process flour, next 2 ingredients, and 1 Tbsp. seeds in a food processor 30 seconds or until seeds are finely ground. (Seeds should be the same consistency as flour.) Add butter, and pulse 5 or 6 times or until mixture resembles small peas and is crumbly. Add half of ice-cold water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, and pulse 2 or 3 times or just until combined. Add 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds and remaining water; process 10 to 15 seconds or until dough forms a ball and pulls away from sides of bowl.
3. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a 1 1/2-inch-thick flat disk; cut into 4 wedges.
4. Dust top of 1 dough wedge with flour; roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. sesame seeds; roll gently to press seeds into dough. Cut dough with a 2-inch round cutter. Place wafers 1/2 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Repeat procedure with remaining dough wedges and sesame seeds.
5. Bake at 325° for 23 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheets on wire racks (about 20 minutes). Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Adapted from THE LEE BROS. CHARLESTON KITCHEN © 2013 by Matt Lee and Ted Lee. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.